Singled Out: The Thin Cherries' Trouble Lights

Keavin Wiggins | 12-16-2021

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Singled Out: The Thin Cherries' Trouble Lights
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The Thin Cherries recently released their new single "Trouble Lights" and to celebrate we asked Mark Lofgren and Steven Delisi to tell us about the track. Here is the story:

Mark: Like many of the songs I write, "Trouble Lights" started out on acoustic guitar. I wrote it in late fall 2020, after recording my solo project, 'Black Moon Book'. I usually record rough ideas on my phone, singing melodies or phrases without writing down any specific lyrics, trying to think of the voice as just another instrument. I listen back a few days later to see if any snippets stand out, melodically or lyrically.

"Trouble Lights" started with the basic verse hook and the line "It's been fourteen years since I ran aground, you almost found me," and I jotted down a few more lines. I imagined a couple being lost and stranded and trying to reconnect in a rather sinister landscape -not exactly post-apocalyptic, but certainly not pre-pandemic.

The bridge and chorus came later; I kind of transitioned to it while singing and playing the verses. I like the double negative lines like "I won't let nobody hurt you, no more," sort of implying something might happen anyways despite the effort to find someone and help or protect them.

The chorus is definitely a sort of "in the midst of a pandemic, will we ever gather again" "call and response" thing. As I was playing around with the song, I added in some breaks and places where other instruments or dynamic shifts might take over.

When I record, I usually put down a rough of the acoustic and vocals first and build from there. I like to work quickly and not overthink things early, so I added the electric guitar Echoplex-type part and some keyboards that were eventually redone and sent the rough off to Steven.

Steven: When Mark sent me the demo, I immediately thought "it's a cool song"; it drew me in immediately with his guitar melody that opens it up minimally and then sort of expands and continues throughout.

That melody line and eerie sound somehow reminded me of "Happy House" by Siouxsie & the Banshees. There's also this cool rhythm part on acoustic that sort of anchors everything. Then later as the song develops in the chorus, it reminded me of [the band] The Church. So, I was really excited to work on it!

Mark had asked me to try coming up with a bass part. I was using my acoustic guitar at the time to come up with bass lines for some of the new songs. So, there was the temptation to play chords too but I didn't this time since his guitar parts were all there. I wasn't sure what to play bass-wise beyond simple core notes, hoping to more or less blend in and provide the low end. But then I started to sort of drive down the fretboard, plucking along the lower strings and it suddenly felt like a counter-melody that actually might fit. I sent Mark the "bass track" that I recorded in Garageband on my laptop and he replicated it on his Rickenbacker bass. It blew me away how cool it sounded and I moved on to create the lead guitar part for the bridge, again thinking about The Church. So, that too was a minimal approach -single notes kind of cascading downward to further the overall feeling I got from the song. Then later, I got to sing some backing harmonies that were long sustained notes like The Buzzcocks used to do. I was worn out! But, this was the most fun I had on any of the tracks I recorded for the upcoming album.

Mark: Such is collaboration in the pandemic landscape! It took a lot longer than usual to get the track together, with all the back and forth. Once Steven sent me his finished parts, I finally cranked out a decent rough and sent it off to drummer Gabe Palomo and to Birdie Soti for some final keyboard work.

Gabe set up with super co-producer (and Birdie's brother!) Nat in his basement and came up with that absolutely amazing drum track. Nat did an amazing job with the final mix and Kingsize Studio wizard Mike Hagler mastered the track. Poor [multi-instrumentalist] Darren Shepherd was too late to the party for this one, but he gets to play bass in the music video, and rest assured his guitar, keys and maybe even some drums will be all over the upcoming 2022 'Weird World' album, which "Trouble Lights" will lead off.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below or stream the song via Spotify here

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